Today I honor all the women who read my jottings and I trust you—all the men as well—will do the same by honoring the special women in your lives. Some of the qualities I most admire in women are courage, compassion, integrity and love.
As I watch and listen to the unfolding tragedy that is going on in Ukraine and neighboring countries today, I am so utterly saddened. But because today, March 8 is International Women’s Day, I find myself reflecting on two special people who have touched my life from that part of the world—a Ukrainian and a Pole. They both introduced me to this very special day that is celebrated in their cultures. As things unfold in their countries I watch in amazement as Poles graciously help Ukrainian women and children escape to safety.
I had never heard of International Women’s Day until several years ago. I knew that March has become the month to honor women in the United States. But I first learned about it at one of my tango nights. One year on March 8, Inga, a Ukrainian woman who organized our group, brought sweets and flowers for all the women. We have a lot of Eastern Europeans in our tango community. This was my first introduction to this celebratory day. Inga continues to do this every year on or around March 8.
A couple of years later when I was having my kitchen remodeled, Christopher, a very pleasant Polish man was doing most of the work. One day in March, I opened the door for him and he immediately bowed to me and gave me a box of candy. I was so moved! He later explained that this day was a really big deal in his country. ALL women are honored on that day–not just mothers—and they are treated like queens.
Origins of honoring women
This day was actually first observed in New York in 1909. But Clara Zetkin, a German feminist, pushed for it to be a holiday in 1910. It really took off in Europe and especially in Russia. There, striking women workers sparked the February Revolution on International Women’s Day in 1917. It later spread across the world as an important day to recognize the contributions women have made to both family and the economy. Dozens of countries mark it as an official or unofficial holiday—from Brazil to Afghanistan to Nepal. In addition to flowers and candy, there are often parades and protests.
I suspect, that even though there is much disruption in these countries today, there will be tiny moments taken to celebrate the courageous women involved in this crisis. And perhaps we can honor these women and all women by honoring our own special women!